From Generation to Generation, Seed Saving


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From Generation to Generation, Seed Saving

  1. 1. FromGeneration to Generation An Activity Guidebook in the Living Tradition of Seed Saving By Eli Rogosa Kaufman A Publication of Fedco Seeds
  2. 2. From Generation to Generation Contents1. Introduction – p. 3-5 Plant a Seed so your Heart will Grow Grade-by-Grade Seed Project Chart2. Family Garden – p. 6 My Family - Plant Families Seed to Bread3. Wild Garden – p. 7-8 Restoring Schoolyard Habitats Wild Seeds4. Native Garden – p. 9-10 Growing a Three Sisters Garden5. Heirloom Garden – p. 11-12 Seeds and Stories6. Seed and Civilization – p. 13-16 Biodiversity and the Potato The Garden Community Planting the Future The Mishnah - ‘Way of Seed’7. Soil and Seed - p.17 Soil and Seed What Makes Good Potting Soil?8. Seed and Sprout p. 18 How do Seeds Develop in Flowers? Sprouts Monocots and Dicots Seeking the Source9 . School Seed Store – p. 19-23 Organizing the Program Packing Seeds - Seed Math “The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands Ethical Business Considerations are living links in an unbroken chain reaching10. Seed Saving – p. 24-34 back into antiquity.” Why Save Seed? Suzanne Ashworth, Seed To Seed Seed Basics and Secrets Pollination Preserving Heritage and Diversity Harvesting and Testing11. How to Save Seeds – p. 35-38 Self-Pollinators: Lettuce, Tomatoes, Beans Cross-Pollinators: Squash Breed Your Own Vegetables12. Seed-Saving Guide - p. 39-4213. Resources – p. 43-49 Fedco Seed Store Catalog, Books Copyright 2001 by Eli Rogosa Kaufman 2
  3. 3. 1. From Generation to GenerationConsider the miracle of the seed. In just 100 days one tiny seed weighing no more than 1/250th of agram matures into a 8 to 9 inch head of broccoli weighing a pound or more, better than a one hundredthousand-fold increase in just over three months. The most brazen stock market trader wouldnt dreamof such profits!Too many children grow up with no conception of what nature can accomplish or where our foodcomes from. Do they think it appears spontaneously on a supermarket shelf, or worse, at their localfast-food establishment? How can we restore understandings about food, a most basic need?We dream that every child in every classroom will be given the opportunity to start seeds, grow agarden, experience the vital sensation of their hands working in the soil, the thrill of watching theirseeds sprout and their plants grow, the satisfaction of working together with others to take part in amiracle.To help fulfill this dream Fedco offers From Generation to Generation, a seed education program withgrade-by-grade activities to bring young gardeners through the full cycle from seed to seed. Bygrowing gardens and saving seeds, young people can reconnect to past generations of farmers andgardeners, renew food and farming traditions in their own community and work together to plant asustainable future.CR LawnFedco Seeds To request a catalog contact: FEDCO PO Box 520 Waterville, ME 04903 Phone (207) 873-7333 Order seeds through the catalog by mail, fax or internet. No phone orders please. 3
  4. 4. “Plant a Seed so your Heart will Grow.” Hafez To re-imagine farming is to see it as an act of healing, where through story, imagination and the strength that arises through working with the earth, we can repair, somehow, the wounds of the soul and those of the world.From Generation to Generation invites young people on a journey of discovery by working withnature in ways that are rare in today’s culture. Seed saving, once an essential skill passed fromgeneration to generation by traditional farmers, is almost a lost art, as is the farming heritage out ofwhich seed saving arose. Our food plants have evolved through a unique partnership with farmers. Bycareful observation, experimentation and selection, traditional farmers transformed wild plants into thefoods that nourish us today. Yet how many of today’s farmers and gardeners still know how to savetheir own seed?Just as a healthy garden supports a vital diversity of plants and animals in an interdependent web oflife, the seeds of culture and learning are nurtured within complex interconnected relationships in theliving whole of the child’s inner, natural, and social community. Garden-based education can producefertile minds, vital hearts and empowered young people. What experiences create an ecology ofeducation for children to care for themselves, nature and community?By saving seeds, young people not only discover the cycle of a plant from seed to seed, but reconnect tothe generations of farmers who have sustained our communities in the past. By saving seeds, youngpeople can become stewards of native and heirloom plants in partnership with nature.Our From Generation to Generation Workshop series provides schools with practical support tocreate school gardens, composting and seed-saving programs adapted to the unique environment,community heritage and vision of their schools and communities. “Imagination is more important than knowledge” Einstein “The real deserts are deserts of the imagination” Laupo Lugari, GaviotasAlthough we may feel overwhelmed by the challenges that surround us, nothing prevents us fromchanging ourselves, our culture of education and our schoolyard. We hold the seed in our hand.At the heart of a successful school gardening program are young people excited by what they can doon their own. More important than how many seeds we save is how we awaken the hearts of youngpeople who may feel too small to make much difference. We save seeds in school not only to protectendangered plants, but to grow young people with a feeling that they can make a real difference intheir world. The energy that awakens through growing and saving seeds can encourage a schoolecology of sustainable relationships that nourish young people on many levels. Seed Journals From Generation to Generation offers resources in the art and science of seed saving as a pathway to hands-on science and school gardening. Journaling is a tool for teachers to coach creativity. Journaling is a way for students to map their journey, record their story and creative ideas. Keeping a journal is a first step in becoming a creative scientist or artist. A journal is as unique as each person. Extension: Research Leonardo daVinci’s journals. 4
  5. 5. Grade-by-Grade Project ChartFrom Generation to Generation provides a grade-by-grade journey of seed-saving projects thatweave together ecology, gardening and community-on-the-land themes. GRADE INQUIRY THEME GARDEN Caring for Caring for Nature’s Garden Myself, Friends K Nature through Wheat: From Seed to Bread and Nature the Seasons How do Family Garden 1- 2 Homes and Families Homes & Our Families / Plant Families Nurture Individuals? Families Wheat: From Seed to Bread, What family is this plant ? Snack Garden How do individuals in Native Garden 1- 2 Natural and Human Nature Wild Garden Ecosystems Neighborhood Three Sisters: help each other? Corn, Beans, Squash Working together in Heirloom Garden a healthy community - Community Saving Seeds of 3 How community heritage Heirloom Vegetables inspires our future How diversity builds Community Heritage Garden 4 healthy communities & Heritage Seeds and Stories plants, soil and water On the Land Land, People,Technology. Heritage Garden 5 Human Impact - Bioregion Farm to City Food Systems Landscape Ecology Soil Stewards Bio-Intensive Garden 6 Soil & Civilization Wasteshed Sustainable Food Systems, School Composting Water Stewards Water Garden 7 Watershed Watershed Water Quality Monitoring, Restoration Aquaponics, Hydroponics Seed Garden 8 Seed Stewards Biodiversity Seed-Savers Community Designing Sustainable 9- 12 Action Projects Problem-Solving Solutions Breeding New Vegetables 5
  6. 6. 2. Family GardenGoal: To discover how people, plants and all creatures are all part of a mutually nurturing familysystem and all need a home or a habitat. To research how people organize plant characteristics.Inquiry: Where are seeds from? How can we organize food plants? What can we look at? Why?Activities:My Family Tree: Make a family tree of your brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, cousinsand grandparents. Take time to make it as beautiful as possible.Gather Seeds in FallVisit an organic farm or farmers’ market.Harvest or buy several varieties of wintersquashes, pumpkins, sunflowers, Indiancorn, peas in the pod, melons and othervegetables with large visible seeds.Separate, rinse, dry and display the seeds.Bake the squash, make pumpkin pie, grindthe corn into flour, roast the pumpkin andsunflower seeds (try it with a bit of oil,tamari and garlic), eat the melon...Meet the Vegetable FamiliesOrganize into groups:Squash and Pumpkin - Tomatoes of all types - Cantaloupe and Honeydew - Beans and Peas in a podScoop out and rinse seeds. Dry in the shade on paper towels. Label. What is the same and different?Classify SeedsHow can we classify seeds? Set out bowls on trays with a variety of seeds from different vegetablefamilies. Feel, touch, and smell the seeds. Create a display showcasing seeds and vegetable families.Extension: Create your own system to organize plants and their seeds.Note: Use only wild or untreated seeds. Conventional seeds may have coatings of toxic fungicides.Reading: Seed to Seed by Susan Ashworth – a complete seed-saving guide with detailed instructions. Seed to Bread Bread from many hands, from many lands The art and heritage of growing wheat, threshing golden sheaves, winnowing chaff in the wind, grinding grains into soft flour and baking bread has roots in almost every culture. When grains are golden dry, harvest by hand and thresh by rubbing between your hands or beating on a blanket or tarp. Research and recreate the folklore and arts of bread baking, wheat weaving and harvest festivals. Who has a family member who can teach how to bake: challah from Israel, pita from Palestine, scones from Scotland, tortillas from Tijuana, focaccia from Florence… Read: Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris, with photos of children from around the world with their breads. 6
  7. 7. 3. Wild Garden “Every cultivated plant was once a wild plant.Every edible wild plant represents a possible new vegetable.” Carol DeppeGoalRestore wild habitats on school grounds todiscover the hidden world of wild plants,insect pollinators, birds and native habitats,and the vital importance of wild habitats forhealthy food gardens.InquiryHow do members in human and natureneighborhoods help each other?Are wild gardens good for food gardens?How can nature return to our schoolyard?BackgroundWhy should we restore a school habitat forwild plants, birds, butterflies, and bugs?Habitat loss is the greatest threat tobiodiversity - the complex diversity of lifeon Earth. 34,000 plant species, 12% of plantsworldwide and 29% of plants in the UnitedStates, have become so rare that they couldeasily disappear. In the United States over2400 acres of habitat are lost every day<>. More and more of theplanet’s land surface is covered by humansettlements or farmland. As a result, wild ecosystems are lost and the diversity of life is diminishingdaily. <>Our goal is to return the processes of agroecology to wild ecology. With diversity as the goal, designyour food garden with abundant opportunities for nature to return. Healthy gardens need wildhabitats for beneficial insects that control insect pests, for pollinators and for small animals.Activity: Create a schoolyard biodiversity sanctuary. A wild garden of native plants is a place whereyoung people can explore the interconnectedness of all life. The entire school community can beinvolved in restoring a school habitat sanctuary.Restoring nature on school grounds is simple. Mark off an area of the schoolyard with tree stumps,rocks and natural borders. Let it go wild. Stop mowing. Walk only on trails. If the land is packeddown, spade open the soil. Add wild soil gathered from a meadow or forest. Cover with mulch (straw,grass clippings, leaves). Soon a rich diversity of native and naturalized plants of all varieties will grow.Insect activity will increase. Birds especially like a small pond, brush covers and wildflowers.Do not be discouraged at the slow pace of growth. Many meadow plants spend the first season settingroots with very little leafy plant growth. Some perennial plants do not bloom in the first year. It takesseveral years to restore a healthy wild habitat. 7
  8. 8. Bug Buddies “You don’t have a snail problem. You have a duck deficiency!” Bill Mollison The insects in wild gardens are essential for a healthy food garden community. Beneficial insects are nature’s control for the insect pests that eat our food plants. The tiny aphids that eat your lettuce leaves are the food for ladybugs. The preying mantis lives on the bugs that eat garden vegetables. Insect pollinators that carry the pollen grains on their legs from flower to flower are essential in the life cycle of plants. When we use chemicals to destroy garden pests, we lose the good bugs too, and hurt the garden ecosystem. Wild SeedsInquiry:How are seeds planted in nature? If all the seeds just fell to the soil below, they would crowd eachother out. How do seeds travel without a farmer to plant them? Can you find these seeds in the forestand meadow: Hitchhikers – burdock … Floaters – milkweed, dandelion… Poppers – jewelweed… Spinners – maple… Droppers – acorns…How far can a dandelion seed float?Activities:Remember: Leave the place so no one can tell you were there.* Seed Sock - Pull big old woolen socks over your leg andarm and tape them around. Walk in the meadow in fall.Did anyone hitchhike a ride?* Seed Soil - Carefully dig up meadow soil in fall. Put thesoil in a tray inside and water. What grows?* Seed Gifts – Collect wild seeds and a sample mother plant in fields and meadows. Wrap seeds incalico fabric and give as a gift, or sell in your seed store. Press, mount and label seeds and plants.* Seed Stalk Display - Carefully collect wild plants gone to seed. Create a beautiful display of the seedstalks, with signs and posters about how nature disperses and plants its seed.* Find hidden pollinators. Sit quietly in a wild garden. Watch how insects visit spring flowers.* Make a trail guide and signs to identify wild plants and habitats on your nature trail. 8
  9. 9. 4. Native GardenWho are the Three Sisters?The Three Sisters are a special family....“In late spring, we plant the corn and beans andsquash. Theyre not just plants - we call them thethree sisters. We plant them together, three kinds ofseeds in one hill. They want to be together with eachother, just as we Indians want to be together witheach other. So long as the three sisters are with us weknow we will never starve. The Creator sends themto us each year. We celebrate them now. We thankthe Creator for the gifts given us today and everyday.” Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)How the Three Sisters help each otherThe Three Sisters, corn, beans, and squash, arethe traditional Native American garden foods ofNorth America. Each of the Three Sisters helpsthe others grow.- Beans give nitrogen for the other sisters.- Corn supports beans.- Sprawling squash vines with prickly leavesprotect from hungry animals,such as raccoon ordeer, and hold in thesoil moisture onhot dry days. “Indigenous education is really a ten thousand year strategic plan.” Gregory CajeteThe Three Sisters teach a sophisticated way to farm that evolved over generations of watchful farmers.Indigenous knowledge is the practical experience and living traditions of Native people passed onfrom generation to generation. Native American farmers observed that corn, beans and squash arestronger when grown together rather than separately.Why? Growing corn in straight rows wastes planting space, does not follow the natural contours of theEarth and requires heavy fertilization. Beans like a support system to hold on to. Squash and corn needabundant nitrogen from the soil. Each of the three sisters has an important function. As corn growsstraight and tall, beans cling onto the strong corn stalks for support. The broad prickly squash leaveshold in soil moisture and protect from marauding animals. The leguminous beans breathe inatmospheric nitrogen, absorbing it into the nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots, and then give it tothe soil to fertilize the other two hungry sisters. 9
  10. 10. Researchers are just now beginning to discover scientific reasons why the Three Sisters method is suchan effective farming system. As our global population grows, we face critical food needs. Let us learnfrom the traditional Native farmers who understand how to farm in harmony with the Earth.Native people and native plants have evolved in partnership together over centuries. The peoplesustain the plants and the plants sustain the people in one total living ecosystem. Generations of Nativegardeners have saved seeds of wild and garden crops. Many of these plants and their fragile habitatsare destroyed every day by the heavy bulldozers and suffocating concrete of modern development.Where are the Native Americans today who have protected the land and plants of this place?“We shared a new understanding of the hard and joyous work of saving living seeds. And weeding, we sharedweeding. Armored in long pants and long-sleeved shirts, big hats and sunscreen, wielding serrated knives anddandelion cutters, shovels, hoes and picks, we pulled row after row of green beings engaged in a winning strugglewith our precious crops...I weed for someone who is not yet born. In the years ahead she will visit our farm. She will seek a seed that was agift to us, desire a taste that has nourished generations, need to eat a word that is food. At home she will plantSegualca remembering her grandmother. As she harvests and prepares it, she will touch old hands, hear distantvoices. Native Seeds/SEARCH strives to fulfill that overwhelming future need. So, I weed.” Source: Native Seed/SEARCH website <>Inquiry:How do Native American garden plants help each other ?How can we work with and learn from Native American teachings to protect the land today? Activity - Planting a Three Sisters GardenIn Spring when the oak leaves are the size of a deer’s ear - stand with two other friends in garden soilready for planting. Clasp each other’s hands to make a circle together. Place your circle three people’soutstretched arms from other people’s circles. Everything in your circle is part of the Three Sistersgarden. Look up to see the birds and bugs flying above your circle. Look down to the soil creaturescrawling under the soil. All the life in the circle above and below is part of the Three Sisters Garden.Make a hill of a hand height in the soil that is the same size circle as your arm-circle (about 2-3 feetacross). In the center plant seven corn kernels a hand apart in a circle. When the corn has grown as tallas your hands – plant beans a hand apart in a circle around the corn. Plant seven squash seeds aroundthe edge of the circle. As the beans grow gently wind them around the corn. As the squash grows,guide them outside the circle.Many Native American tribes honor the seven directions, Father Sky above, Mother Earth below, north,south, east, and west. Feel these directions with your feet firmly standing in this place. The seventhdirection, the center of the circle, is in our heart.Books:Keepers of the Earth series, especially Keepers of Life, by Michael CadutoNative American Gardening by Michael Caduto and Joseph BruchacBuffalo Bird Woman retold by Gilbert WilsonIndian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Allen MurpheyResources:* Native Seed /SEARCH : A nonprofit organization and seed catalogue preserving Native Americanseeds and farming traditions: 10
  11. 11. 5. Heirloom GardenWhat is an heirloom?What are your own family heirlooms? Ifthey are too precious to bring in, can youdraw or photograph them? Ask yourparents and grandparents. Visit or callolder relatives. Create a class displayshowcasing the unique family histories,traditions and stories of family heirlooms.Research and write down the stories andtales of family heirlooms. Write a classbook about family heirlooms and thehistory and stories that each tell.Does anyone in your family garden orgrow heirloom seeds?What are the special vegetables, foods andrecipes of your family and communityheritage? Seeds and StoriesSeed catalogues are new in the field of agriculture. The first seed companies in the US were establishedin the late 1700s. A hundred years ago, when our great-grandparents were born, half of the peoplewere farmers - one of every two people! Today only two percent are farmers. Where did all thosefarmers get their seeds? For thousands of years people have saved their own seeds. Every farmerdepended on the seed they and their neighbors saved to plant next year’s crop. The food plants that nourish us have evolved from wild plants as traditional farmers saved seed from vegetables that were tasty, easy to harvest, and survived diseases and pests. Heirloom seeds have been handed down as family favorites from generation to generation. These varieties are our vegetable heritage - a vital inheritance that we can grow in our garden. Each heirloom has a story to tell, a history of real people in real places. By growing heirloom crops, each of us becomes a link to restoring the food and farming traditions in our own community. When immigrants came to this country they brought cherished seed varieties. Europeans brought lettuce, cabbage, turnips, cucumbers, squash, beans, wheat, barley and more. They came to a new continent rich with native peoples and native food crops. Native North Americans introduced tomatoes, potatoes, corn, squash, and beans from South America. Native Americans still raise native food crops cultivated over centuries. Immigrant plants that flourished in the New World and the living traditions of Native American peoples are today’s heirloom plants. Many of these old varieties are still being grown by home gardeners. As fewer people farm, the heirloom seeds and the stories of the people who grew them are being forgotten. 11
  12. 12. The Story of Abenaki Calais Flint CornThe summer of 1816 was so cold in New England that there was a snow storm or severe frost everymonth. Thousands of settlers pulled up stakes and headed West seeking a more hospitable climate. Inthe remote northern Vermont valley wherein lies the village of Calais only one kind of corn survived.Grown by the local Abenaki Native American tribe for generations and given to settlers, the variety,also known as Roy’s Calais Flint Corn, was the sole sustenance for many families that year. Kept by theFair family since that time, the corn was saved from extinction when Native Americans in thisgeneration rescued a 10 year-old jar of seed in Roy Fair’s basement, grew it out and shared it again withlocal farmers. Later Calais farmers gave some of the seed to Vermont seedsman Tom Stearns whoshared it with Fedco. This Abenaki treasure is used for making corn meal and Johnny Cakes - a livingteaching of the age-old benefits of regionally adapted heirloom varieties and of the continuedgenerosity of Native American farmers to this day. Source: Lorraine Landers, Dawnland CenterInquiry:Why was the Abenaki corn the only crop tosurvive?Extensions:* Research ways that plants survive byadapting to their unique environment.* Write a story describing how a difficultexperience made you stronger.* Visit a local restoration farm or village.Visit the Plimouth Plantation<>, a living historymuseum with a seed-saving program.* Visit your local historical society, researchthe farming and land use history of yourcommunity.* Make a map of your community onehundred years ago and today, with displayscomparing the food system and use ofresources.Debate: Do you agree or disagree:The colonization of native resources isjustified on the ground that indigenouspeople do not “improve” their land andresources.Read: Biopiracy by Vandana ShivaVisit: <> 12
  13. 13. 6. Seed and Civilization Biodiversity and Potatoes “75 percent of all the seeds ever used in agriculture are estimated to have become extinct by 1990. Ninety five percent are expected to be extinct by the year 2000. We are depleting our genetic base by overdependence on too few highly specialized varieties. When compost is added to soil, normal open-pollinated crop varieties produce yields equal to high Green Revolution-type yields with a fraction of the resources and fewer insect and disease problems.” John JeavonsInquiry: What’s wrong with having only a handful of varieties?Over the past two generations many small regional seed companies have gone out of business or havebeen bought out by large multinational seed companies. As the small seed companies disappear, so aremany of the regionally adapted open-pollinated vegetables that they maintain. Heirloom varieties,adapted to local climate conditions, such as early maturing vegetables suited to northern NewEngland’s short summer, are too tender to withstand a 3000-mile journey from a factory farm to yourtable. Are the multinational conglomerates which now control the seed industry interested in smallfarm or local community needs? Local varieties are being replaced with a few expensive hybridstailored to needs of large farms and huge food processors who dominate the production system. TheSeed Savers Exchange estimates that 97% of the vegetable varieties grown in the US in 1900 are lost. What caused the Irish Potato Famine ?The Irish potato famine led to the death ordisplacement of 2.5 million people in the 1840s. Why?Potatoes are not from Ireland. All Irish potatoesdescend from a handful of potatoes brought back toEurope from South America in the 1600s. This potatomonoculture proved susceptible to late blight, adisease caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans.South American potato farmers have hundreds ofpotato varieties, many of which are resistant to thedisease. All of the Irish farmers grew a few varietieswhich succumbed to the fungal disease. Strength in DiversityUniformity in crops makes them vulnerable to disease.Did you know about the US corn blight epidemic in1970? All the corn hybrids were descended from onesingle blight-susceptible variety. 15% of our corn waslost, however most of the old open-pollinated corn varieties are resistant to the blight!See: <>Advanced Activity - Return to ResistanceResearch the innovative work of Dr. Raoul Robinson who refined how to breed disease and pestresistant vegetables by selecting only the hardiest plants for seed. “Our best vegetable lines now outyieldthe commercial lines. The commercial lines have been sprayed and ours have not,” says Dr. Robinson. Breedingthat reduces the need for pesticides offers health and economic benefits for farmers world-wide.Pesticides are a serious health threat to agricultural workers and a major source of water and landpollution. See: <>Inquiry: Can organic farming feed the world? Research bio-intensive garden methods that can feed theworld without any chemicals: <> 13
  14. 14. The Garden CommunityWho is part of the garden community? An ecological community includes all the microbes, plants,bugs, animals and people that interact with each other and share available resources within a definedenvironment. An ecological community, or ecosystem, is all the parts in the environment. The gardencommunity embraces: * bacteria, plants, insects, animals and people * the elements; light, air, wind, water and soil.A food garden is a unique community where people are an integral part of the ecosystem. Design for Diversity An ecological garden or farm is designed to sustain a high level of biodiversity. If a community sustains a great number of species, its diversity is high. The higher the biological diversity in a community, the greater its stability, adaptability and resilience to pests and disease or climate change. Habitats Each species in the garden occupies its own ecological niche or role that it fulfills in the community. Environments containing a variety of habitats are better able to provide for the range of needs in a diverse community.Activity: Webbing a CommunityGo outdoors and stand in or near the garden. Each person will choose part of the garden community(i.e.: sunlight, snail, earthworm, birds, sunflower). Write or draw it on an index card and tape on eachperson’s chest. Stand in a circle. Give one person a ball of yarn. Ask: “Who needs you or who do youneed?” Hold onto the yarn and pass it to that person/part. Continue until everyone is interconnected ina web of life. When everyone is connected ask: What if a chemical was sprayed to kill all the bugs?Create Foodweb Art showing Everybody is Somebody’s Lunch:All of the bacteria, fungi plants, insects and animal need food to live and are food for others. Greenplants (primary producers) draw energy from the sun to make food. Animals, such as deer or cows, eatplants (herbivores). Some animals eat other animals (carnivores) or eat everything (omnivores). Tinymicrobial creatures and fungi (decomposers) consume old plants, animals and waste, and transformthem into the humus in soil that nourishes new plants.ExtensionAdopt-a-Creature or Plant in the garden. Research and make posters, dioramas and displays about agarden community member. Create face masks and write Voices of Nature theater. Act out animpromptu play - Day in the Life of Our Garden. 14
  15. 15. Planting the Future Seed-Saving ProjectsPurpose:Students establish their own seed company and school garden to grow out and sell rare seeds, useschool compost and restore native wild habitats.Inquiry:What seeds are heirlooms with a story to tell? How can we restore biodiversity and save threatenedheirloom seeds? How can we transform our cafeteria food-waste to a profitable resource?Background:Can a small group of committed people change the world? What difference can one person make? Mostof us feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the environmental problems. What can we do?If Waldoboro can do it, why not you!A small group of high school kids in Waldoboro, Maine decided they could make a difference. Theystarted an organic school garden using compost from their lunch scraps. They contacted the SeedSavers Exchange, a non-profit organization that coordinates an exchange of heirloom seeds. Theyrequested rare and endangered seeds. The kids researched and made displays of the places, peopleand stories connected to the seeds. They grow out more rare seeds every year, and now have anextensive seed catalogue that offers hundreds of endangered vegetable seeds.Why not send for the Medomak catalogue, buy rare seeds to grow out and see what kids can do ! Medomak Valley High School Heirloom Seed Project 320 Manktown Road Waldoboro, Maine 04572Sample Letter to Medomak Heirloom Seed Project: or local gardeners:Dear Mr. Thurston,My name is Eli. We are starting an heirloom garden in my school, and collecting seeds and theirstories. Would you please send me the ___ that you offer? I would appreciate if you could tell us aboutthe history of the seed and why you save it. We will grow out the seed and reoffer it to the public.Sincerely,EliResourcesSeeds of Diversity <>Seed Savers Exchange <> 15
  16. 16. Seed and Torah “Of what avail is an open eye, if the heart is blind?” Rabbi Ibn-Givrol, 12th c.Food is central to our being, our culture and our relationship to the other living beings on our planet.Farming is at the core of how each person interacts with their environment. The issues raised byfarming and food systems are among the most critical that we face as a society in the 21st century.Consider how our food choices and the food system that “we buy into” impacts our relationships, ourcommunity and economy. Mishnah - The Order of Seeds ancient teachings for today “He that goes forth bearing precious seeds shall return rejoicing, bringing home the sheaves of wheat.” Psalm 126:6The six volumes of the Mishnah (which means “to renew”) were written down from the second to thefifth century in Israel. The Mishnah documented the vast body of living traditions of ancient Israelipeople, most of whom were farmers. The comments and questions which Rabbis wrote in the marginsof the Mishnah have evolved into forty volumes of Talmud, which is still being commented on today!The first volume of the Mishnah is called Seder Zeriam which means The Order of Seeds. Why didancient Rabbis think it was so important to write about seeds? What did they teach? Believe it or not,they wrote a lot about seed saving! Page after page describes isolation distances to maintain traditionalvegetable varieties. The Mishnah describes many other traditional farming practices, such as leavingcorners of the field unharvested for hungry people to partake freely: “This is the custom of the Hebrew farmers – when reaping the wheat field, leave the corners of the field for the hungry and the widow to glean.”Activity:Conduct a web-search about the Mishnah and Talmud. Write your own “mishnah” for futuregenerations about the importance of protecting biodiversity and heirloom seeds. What five otherthemes would you write on? Perhaps two millennia hence someone will read it… Global / Local Lunch Bag Inquiry: Where does your food come from? Activity: Divide into teams and bring in or buy:1. a typical lunch bought at a 2. a lunch of locally grown supermarket foods bought at a food co-op or farmer’s market.Younger: What part of the plant are your vegetables from?Advanced: Where in the world is your food from? Use a world map to chart the route of a food fromthe farm to your table. Try to list ALL the people and activities that bring a favorite food to you. Whatare the direct and hidden long-term costs? Discuss social, environmental and economic implications.Extension: Map your watershed and foodshed. Debate: who profits from chain supermarkets? 16
  17. 17. 7. Soil and Seed Let us nourish the soil so that it in return may nourish us; for any sustainable culture has its roots in the land. Waste is Food. Deep in the forest an earthworm burrows through the moist soil and covers a tiny seed with its rich castings. The earthworm draws nourishment from decomposing leaves from last season. The seed, awakened by the wetness, begins to germinate. Its leaves push through rotting leaves to reach towards the shafting light. Its roots stretch deep to the rich soil below.Composting transforms the food that sustained us into nutrients that sustain the earth. Althoughcomposting is simple (put vegetable foodscraps in a pile with leaves, soil and a bit of water, and waitfor it to decompose), the complex foodweb in compost systems and soil are key to understanding vastglobal lifecycles of nutrients and elements. When we compost, we restore the life cycles that sustain us.Activity:Establish a school composting program to nourish your garden. Introduce composting and invite amotivated class to start the program. Decide who will do each job. Build a compost bin. Separate,collect and weigh the food scraps in a 5-gallon bucket. Use only vegetable, grain and fruit scraps - nomeat, dairy or oils. Bring the food scraps to the compost. Mix with leaves or hay and a bit of soil. Rinsethe buckets and return them to the cafeteria. The compost is ready when is smells like sweet forest soil. What makes Good Potting Soil? “We know more about the heavens above than the soil under our feet.” daVinciInquiry:What is in soil? What is a good potting soil recipe? What conditions promote healthy seed germination?Activity: Discovering Living Soil 1. What’s in soil? Put soil from various locations in jars. Add water. Cover. Shake. Watch layers settle. 2. Gather potting soil ingredients: peat moss, soft rotted forest logs, decomposed leaves, earthworm castings, compost, top soil, sand, small pebbles, sterile potting soil…etc. Feel, smell and describe.3. Using recycled clear plastic bottles with the bottoms cutoff, put equal amounts of the soil raw ingredients intoupside-down bottles. Pour in equal amounts of water.Collect in cups placed underneath. Test for: drainage andwater-holding capacity.4. Mix ingredients in measured proportions, put inplanting containers and record recipe. Label and date. Plant. Which fosters germination? Nourishesrobust growth? Is susceptible to damping-off?Extensions: Interview organic farmers for favorite recipes and tips on potting soil recipes.Use a magnifying glass and microscope to investigate who lives in the soil ecosystem.Write a myth for today based on the connection/disconnection between ‘humans’ and ‘humus’.Visit the Microbe Zoo: <> and 17
  18. 18. 8. Seed and Sprout Background: Every seed encases a tiny embryonic plant that can rest dormant for years in dark, cold and dryness until the right conditions for growth awaken it. When touched by moisture, warmth and air the seed swells up with life. Every seed contains a tiny plant baby (embryo) and the nourishment to feed the tiny plant when it first starts to grow. The seed holds rich food with concentrated nutrients (protein, starch and minerals). When a seed germinates, sweet sugars are produced that nourish the tiny seedling. This makes sprouts delicious, nutritious, full of life and easy to digest.Inquiry: What’s inside a seed? Which sprouts are tasty to eat?Activity: Soak large bean seeds overnight. Carefully open the swollenseeds. Find the baby plant surrounded by its food source. Try a taste.Eat or compost it.Sprout raw sunflower seeds, alfalfa, lentils. Try many kinds of seeds.Soak overnight. Pour out water (save to bring outside for yourgarden). Keep sprouts in a glass jar and rinse once or twice daily.They are sweetest to eat in about three days. Monocots and DicotsInquiry: Which seedlings start with two leaves? Which grow fromonly one leaf?Activity: Soak squash and bean, corn and wheat seeds. Place in aclear container supported by or covered with moist towels for goodobservation. Carefully examine daily. Using a magnifying glass,examine and draw each stage of growth.Extension: Make a flip book or cartoon strip of a plant growing. Seeking the SourceLeaves are drawn to light. Roots reach down below. Whatever way you plant the seed, it knows which way to go.Inquiry: How do seeds know which way to grow?Activities:* Seed Spiral - Soak beans overnight. Place one on the center of a cardboard circle covered with a moistpaper towel. Wrap in plastic wrap with holes for air. Open up to mist daily. Place upright and rotatedaily. Watch the seedling germinate and reach to the light and earth. Compost it after the experiment.* Place a pot of seedlings on a bright window sill. Rotate and watch the leaves turn towards the light. 18
  19. 19. 10. School Seed StoreA seed store at your school can be a fund-raiser with a wholesome green message. Fedco offers twooptions: the packet seed store and the bulk seed store. Whichever you choose, whatever theme youdesire for your store, we will help you select varieties for resale to parents and school supporters.Reselling Seed PacketsIn the packet model you purchase multiple packets and resell them at a profit. All discounts in theFedco catalog apply plus an additional 10% school seed store discount. For example, an order for 250herb packets @ $1 would qualify for a 15% volume discount plus a 10% school discount for a total costof $187.50. If you resell all these packets for $1.20 each, your school can raise $300, for a profit of$112.50. At $1.40 each you could raise $350, for a total profit of $162.50.Bulk Seed StoreThe bulk Seed Store is a little more work (and a lot more fun) and offers far greater moneymakingpotential. Schools purchase seeds in bulk and students repack the seed to sell at their own School SeedStore. Students design their own seed packets, develop their marketing strategy, and learn practicalmath using scales and scoops. Students will discover the financial benefits of cooperation, learn priceless business skills, and wrestle with age-old ethical questions that are at the core of any profit-making enterprise. For example, your school can purchase a 1 lb. bag of lettuce seed at $11 less 5% school discount. Students then divide the pound into 200 2g packets which they sell for 60¢ each, turning a $10.45 seed investment into a $120 return. Note: Since there are 453.6 grams in a pound, this example allows for 13.4% “shrinkage” due to spilled seed, overweight packets, etc. Volume discounts apply for large orders. If you buy $10 worth of each of ten varieties in bulk, you can turn an investment of only $85 into $1,200 in revenue. To keep your overhead low Fedco provides blank resealable seed envelopes to you at cost, or for sturdier packaging we recommend small brown manila envelopes sold at Staples. 19
  20. 20. Organizing the ProgramThe key to a successful program is to be well organized so everyone knows exactly what his/her job is,how to do it, and how to solve unanticipated problems in a team process.Materials:Clear containers that close tight (i.e. plastic ziplock freezer bags or plastic boxes, to hold the bulkseeds), balance or digital scale, measuring spoons, art supplies for seed packets The basic operation of a school seed store involves: 1. Organize the program and jobs. The main jobs are: a. weighers and packers b. quality control and financial management c. artists - design seed packets, store signs, brochure and posters d. writers - write ads, radio shows for school PA system, news articles Everybody may want to be a salesperson. Carefully discuss all the details so everyone understands all the job responsibilities. Will the class divide into separate work-teams or will everyone take turns at each job? Post the (rotating) job chart. Take plenty of time so the work plan is fair for all. 2. Order seeds. Will the teacher order the basic seed selections, or will the kids decide together for themselves? 3. Set-up the seed store area and procure the materials. 4. Develop a marketing strategy – seed store name, seed packet design, publicity, brochure, posters, parent volunteers… 5. Seed packets: Trace the outline(s) of a seed packet on paper. Draw in the seed packet art in black and white in the envelope outlines on the paper. Photocopy, color in if you like, cut out and paste onto empty seed packets. Fill with seed. 6. Refer to Packing Seed and Ethical Considerations for more details.Each step involves details that can be adapted to the age, number and interests of the people in a class.For example, in one school the lead-class had 11 children. The class divided the work into 11 jobs thatrotated monthly. A large class may be divided into four groups each with a job.Extensions: Projects of increasing sophistication can be developed such as: writing a “How to SaveSeed” brochure, conducting workshops for other classes or the community, conducting scientific andcommunity-action research, writing a Seed Saving book, designing and posting a website.Tips: Start small. Stay small and grow slowly from success to success. 20
  21. 21. Packing SeedsOnce you repackage seeds, they cannot be resold as Fedco Seeds. They are now your seeds. Tomaintain their original quality from Fedco, store them in a dry, cool, dark place. Label your seedpackets with the variety, germination rate, and month and year of test that is written on the bulk seedpackage. If the test date is over nine months old, you should conduct your own up-to-date germinationtest. See Seed Saving Basics for germination-testing instructions.Materials:Balance scale, measuring spoons, seed envelopes, art suppliesGoal:To get a sense of seed weight, density and feel for packingInquiry:How much seed should go into a packet? Seed MathActivity:All Levels - Packing SeedMaterials: scale, measuring spoons, measuring cups, clean dry quart containers, seedsFeel the seeds. Run your fingers through them. Pour them. Hold them in your hand. Feel theconnections.For younger grades:To develop a sense of weight and volumeDensityA teaspoon of broccoli seed weighs more than a teaspoon of lettuce seed.Why? Compare other kinds of seeds.Weight and VolumeWhat is the difference between a pound and a quart? (dry - weight vs liquid - volume)Take different measuring scoops and fill heaping full of seeds.How much does each scoop weigh?How much does a heaping teaspoon of seeds weigh?How many cups of seeds are in a pound of the seed variety you are packing?How many heaping teaspoons in a cup of seed?How many heaping teaspoons in the entire pound of seed?If you pack a teaspoon of seeds in each packet, how much will you charge for each seed packet to make a profit of X ?For middle grades:ConversionsWhat unit of measure holds a gram of seeds?How big is a gram?How much do 100 seed packets weigh without seed?Divide the weight by 100 to get the weight of one empty packet.To figure out how much your packet should weigh when filled, add the weight of the empty packet tothe weight on the label. 21
  22. 22. For older grades:Checking Accuracy - see the chart belowWeigh the seed in its container (d). After you have completed packing, weigh the original containerwith the remaining seed (e). The difference between the two weights is the weight of seeds packed (d –e = f) .To measure the accuracy of packing compare the weight of seeds packed (f) with the total weight topack (c) which equals the number of packets filled times the labeled weight of each (a x b). If (f) isgreater than (c) the average packet has been overpacked meaning it weighs more than labeled. If (c) isgreater than (f) the average packet has been underpacked meaning it weighs less than labeled. Thepercent of error is determined using the formula: g = (f – c) x 100 /c. If (g) is a negative value, theseeds have been underpacked. Seed Name a. Number of packets filled b. Weight per packet c. Total weight to pack c=axb d. Weight of the seed & container Before packing e. Weight of the seed & container after packing f. Actual weight of seed used f=d–e g. Percent error g = (f – c) x 100 / c 22
  23. 23. Ethical Business ConsiderationsUnderweight Packets - Truth in PackagingIf the seed is underpacked, should you empty the packets and start over? Does it matter by how muchit is underpacked? Can you tolerate any underpack? 0 to 1 per cent? Less than 2 per cent? 5 per cent?How do you feel after you bought something and then find out that the advertisement claim was nottruthful?Variation of Packets and Quality Control (advanced)Even if your average packet checked out as accurate using the formula, you will experience variation inpacket weights. Sample the weight of every 10th packet to see how much your packet run varies. Theresults should organize themselves as a bell curve with the largest number of packets at the desiredweight and fewer and fewer packets at either extreme. What percentage of packets is underweight?How much variation is tolerable? How much do you think you need to overpack to avoid getting anyunderweight packets? Try some experiments. Try to overpack by 10% and see what results you get.How does Accuracy affect Profitability? (advanced)For example, if you buy 5 lb. bean seed for $8/lb, repack them accurately into 80 one-oz. packages @1.00 each, how much is your profit? If you overpack by 25%, how many packets will you get out of the5 lb.? How much money will you make? Why does your profit percentage decrease by more than thepercentage of the overpack?Value of your Labor (advanced)Keep track of how many hours labor it takes to run your seed store and how much profit you aremaking. If you divided your profits equally among your class according to how many hours worked(including your own hours) how much did each person make per hour? How much of your labor wasseed packing? How many packets did you make in how many hours? How many packets per hour? Ifyou doubled your packing speed, how would that affect your “wage” (profit divided by hoursworked)?GerminationWhat if your seed achieves a poor germination result when you test it? Should you sell it if it is belowfederal germination standard? Is it ethical to label it as such but to enclose extra seed? What if it testsjust above federal standard but lower than you would like?Note: Schools that buy bulk seeds from Fedco will receive a list of the Federal germination standards. What is Right Livelihood?Can you think of other ethical business issues that you would like to explore with your class? Whatmakes you trust a product or business? Is it ever okay for a business to lie (such as engaging in false ormisleading advertising or telling a half-truth) to increase its profits? Is there such a thing as rightlivelihood? How would you define it? Visit <> to learn about what kids can do toprotest sneaker sweatshops, and more. 23
  24. 24. Seed Saving Why Save Seeds? “Seeds are the bearer of life and culture, yet most of todays commercial seeds are hybrid seed of varieties that are bred for appearance, long shelf-life, and rapid growth. It is critical to preserve the diversity of traditional food plants by growing and saving open-pollinated seeds that produce hardy, nutritious plants not dependent on chemical fertilizers or pesticides.” CR Lawn “The garden seeds being dropped from the catalogues are the very best vegetable varieties we will ever see.” Kent Whealy, Seed Savers ExchangeToday just ten companies control half of the global seed trade, and the largest of these, Seminis, with40% of the North American vegetable seed market, was recently bought out by an even largercorporation, Monsanto. The foundation of the worlds food supply is almost as heavily concentrated asthe seed industry. Of 7000 plants farmed or used for food, just 30 species provide 90 per cent of theworlds caloric intake, only eight make up 75% of what we eat and just four most of the calories andproteins consumed by the world population through global trade. According to the Seed SaversExchange <> about 97% of vegetable and fruit varieties available in the US in 1900were lost in the twentieth century. Genetic diversity is evaporating twice as fast as the tropicalrainforest!How do you feel when informed that 250 years ago there were no seed companies in this country? Formost of our agricultural history (at least 10,000 years) people have saved their own seeds. Multi-national corporations today are patenting native and heirloom seeds developed from centuries ofindigenous knowledge of traditional farmers. These seeds are used to breed hybrids that are difficult tosave for seed.Heirloom seeds are threatened today. They are endangered because the vegetables they grow are tootender for a 3,000 journey from a factory farm to your table, or are not exactly the right shape to fit into a shipping box. They are endangered because nature is bountiful and heirloom seeds are easy to grow, so there is not enough profit to interest the big corporations in growing them. Yet fewer and fewer farmers and gardeners remember how to save seed. Inquiry: Have you ever seen a food plant go to seed or allowed a plant in your garden to go to seed? 24
  25. 25. Seed Basics “Seed saving is easy. Plants want to make seed. They cooperate fully. To save seed just let the plants produce seed and grab it quick before the birds and squirrels do. We gardeners and farmers care about our direct relationship with soil, plants, and food. To grow plants from seed bought from others is one level of relationship. To grow plants from our own seed, to save seeds from our own plants, goes to a deeper level. It is fulfillment and continuity-plants and people maintaining each other, nurturing each other, evolving together. It completes the circle.” Carol Deppe The first step in seed saving is to plan and plant a garden. Leave plenty of room between each plant for its seed stage growth. Plants go to seed naturally without any gardeners help. What seeds will you save? The first step in saving seeds is to determine if the variety is: open-pollinated or hybrid.Open-pollinated seed produce plants just like the parent plant, who resemble their grandparents andgreat-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. Open-pollinated heritage crops have beendeveloped from wild edible plants through generations of selection by nature and farmers. These seedsproduce stable varieties like their parent-plants.Hybrids are seeds from two varieties of parent-plants that are genetically different, but of the samespecies. They do not produce plants like themselves, but new combinations. Their traits separate out inthe next generations. On rare occasions, the seed will be sterile, similar to when a horse mates with adonkey. The next-generation mules are sterile. Crossing different open-pollinated varieties from the same species will produce a hybrid.A new cross from the same parents must be done each time to create that very same combination. Plantbreeders produce hybrids in the hope of combining the best traits of each parent. Save seeds fromhybrids if you are doing long-term breeding experiments, or are curious to see what will happen. 25
  26. 26. Seed Secrets How do Seeds Develop in Flowers?BackgroundPollination - the transfer of pollen from a stamen to an ovule.Pollen - microscopic particles from the stamen or male part of the plant.Stamen - part of the plant that produces pollen.Ovule - part of the plant that produces seed or fruit.The pistil has a stigma that receives the pollen, a style through which the pollen travels and an ovarywith ovules that develop into seeds. Connect the words to the plant part: pistil stamen stigma pollen ovary ovulesFlowers are either self-pollinating (male and female parts in one flower) or cross-pollinate (separate male andfemale flowers) with the help of insects or the wind. When the pollen fertilizes the ovule, it begins todivide and grow seeds.Flower Science and Art:* Collect flowers, cut open and draw a cross-section of a flower. Label the flower parts.* Press the flower parts between wax paper, lightly iron and put in your journal.* Make or buy candles. Dip in warm water till slightly soft. Press on flower parts.* Construct large brightly painted paper-mache flowers that open to reveal their inner secrets. Male and Female Flowers on a Squash Plant Cucurbits, such as squashes, melons and cucumbers, have male and female flowers. The insects carry the pollen from the male flower to the ovary on the female flower. 26
  27. 27. All flowering plants require pollination to produce seed. Pollination involves the transfer of pollen from the anther (male part of the flower) to the stigma (female part of the flower). Flowering plants are either: self-pollinated or cross-pollinated.Self-pollinated plants have both male and female parts in one flower so that they pollinate themselves.The stigma is pollinated by pollen in the same flower on the same plant.Cross-pollinated plants need insects or wind to carry the pollen from the anther of one flower on aplant to the stigma of a flower on another plant. How is pollen transferred? Cross-pollinated plants transfer pollen from the anther of one plant to the stigma of another by insects, wind or manual hand-pollination. insect pollination 27
  28. 28. Insect-Pollinated Plants often have larger, colorful flowers that attract insects to travel from flower to flower. When saving seedfrom cross-pollinating plants, grow as many plants as you can to protect the crop’s diverse genetic traits. Did you ever see a cucumber, squash or melon flower? Wind-Pollinated Plants Wind-pollinated flowers, such as corn, are often small since they do not need to attract insects. They do not produce nectar and do not have any scent. Most trees and grasses have wind- pollinated flowers. Varieties that are wind pollinated should be planted in dense blocks to ensure total pollination. Pollen can travel for miles depending on the Plant at least 200 corn strength of the wind. plants when saving corn seed. 28
  29. 29. Latin Names and Family SecretsThe Latin name reveals the family secrets of who is really related to whom. The first name is the genus.The second name is the species. Plants can look different and have a different common name, but be ofthe same genus and species and therefore cross with each other - even if they have different commonnames. On rare occasion different species may cross. Beets and Swiss chard are both Beta vulgaris and will cross with each other.Broccoli, collards, cauliflower, cabbage, kolhrabi, kale (except Siberian Kale; Brassica napus) andBrussels sprouts have different common names but are all Brassica oleracea - the same genus andspecies and will cross with each other.Turnips, Chinese mustards and Chinese cabbages are all Brassica rapa and will cross with each otherand wild mustard relatives. Any Brassica oleracea, i.e. collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi and kale(except Siberian kale, Brassica napus), will cross with each other. Any Brassica rapa, i.e. turnips, Chinesemustards and Chinese cabbages, will cross. Different species rarely cross. Flowering Plant Reproductive CycleVegetable crops have a reproductive cycle of either one or two seasons.Annuals produce flowers and seed in one season.Biennials grow into a mature plant (that you can eat) in the first season, then over-winter and set seedin the second year. In areas too cold for biennials to survive the winter, plants that have their roots asthe food part, like carrots or parsnips, need to over-winter in the ground. Plants that we eat the leafypart, like cabbage, can be dug up, transplanted into pots and over-wintered in a greenhouse or rootcellar, then transplanted back to the garden in spring to flower and produce seeds.Perennials live and bear seed year after year. 29
  30. 30. Self-Pollinating Plants ‘selfers’In self-pollinated plants the process of pollination occurs within each flower alone. Each flower hasboth the male and female part to pollinate itself. The pollen from the male-part pollinates the female-part in one ‘perfect’ flower.Self-pollinated plants have flowers that have evolved to self-pollinate without assistance. There are rareself-pollinating plants in which cross-pollination can occur or be induced.Selfers require a smaller number of plants to ensure genetic diversity, and shorter isolation distancesto prevent crossing than crossers.Certain heirloom potato-leaf varieties of tomatohave long, protruding styles which encouragecross-pollination. If you grow seed fromthese varieties, isolate them to preventcrossing. Lettuce will cross if you intertwine flowers from plants growing next to each other, and embrace them in a field with abundant pollinators Potatoes are produced by cloning the tubers, but if allowed to flower, will cross-pollinate. 30
  31. 31. Populations for DiversityTo maintain resilient plants forthe range of unforeseenconditions of future generations,save seed from healthy plantswith a wide range ofcharacteristics. If seeds aresaved from only a few plants,the full genetic pool ofinformation will be lost. Mostcross-pollinating plants needspecific populations to thriveover generations, ie: corn needsat least two hundred plants tomaintain vigorous seeds. Onehandful of seeds may hold therich diversity needed to survive a hot dry season or a cool rainy season. If the winners of the race forjust one trait are saved, the adaptability needed to survive unforeseen new changes may be lost.Inquiry: What unexpected climate conditions are we seeing today? (greenhouse effect) Locally Adapted Varieties “A cantaloupe from Arizona is not a cantaloupe from New York.” Rob Johnston Out of the rainbow of traits in a handful of seeds, some have a tendency to be a bit more of this or little more of that. The plants that tend to mature earlier will be selected by generations of farmers to adapt to the local climate conditions in Northern New England. The plants that are able to withstand hot dry conditions will be the survivors in Arizona. Inquiry: What is the difference between farmer selection and natural selection? For advanced students: Research “Return to Resistance” on Rogues, Rascals and Rapscallions Rascals to the seed-saver are weak, diseased plants or those with less desirable traits or not true-to-type. Save seed from the strongest, healthiest plants with the qualities you want to pass on. Rogue out (pull and eat)unwanted rapscallions. By saving seeds we become part of a living tradition of farmers who haveselected certain traits to pass on from generation to generation, gradually developing the food crops weeat today. 31
  32. 32. Preserving Our Heirloom HeritageSeed savers may want to preserve a plants unique genetic heritage. To prevent different varieties of thesame species from cross-pollinating, do not allow their pollen from reaching the flowers of each other.This is called ‘isolation’. Isolation MethodsDistanceWind- pollinated crossers - separate by at least 1 mileInsect-pollinated crossers - separate by at least a quarter mile.TimeGrow only one variety of each crop type per year. Or plant different varieties of the same species in thesame year as long they do not flower at the same time. Annuals - start one variety early in the season and another several weeks later. Biennials -grow multiple varieties of the same species (such as onions) by staggering stages so only one is in its second year and going to flower.Cages and Physical BarriersIf isolation by distances are not practical, isolate plants in screen houses, cover with a spun polyesterrow cover (Reemay) over a small hoop-house, or even paper bags, to prevent roving insects fromentering. Introduce some insects inside to pollinate the plants. Pull out (rogue) any plants that crossaccidentally and eat your mistakes! Pollinators must be introduced into the closed environment, or youmust hand-pollinate. Intentional crossing is breeding. Plant your crosses next season to see what newvarieties grow. To maintain robust plants from seed you save: 1. Maintain large population sizes for full genetic diversity, 2. Isolate plants from cross-pollination. 3. Rogue plants which are “off-type” or undesirable. 32
  33. 33. Harvesting Dry and Wet SeedHarvest plants as mature as possible. Seeds either mature dry on the plant in pods (beans) or on flower(lettuce), or in the moist fruit(tomato, squash, pumpkin,melon, and cucumber). Afterharvesting dry seed-plants,hang in a cool dry place untilbone dry. Tomato, squash,pumpkin, and melon seedsare ripe when the fruit is ripefor eating to overripe.Ferment the seeds of wet-seeded crops. Let the seedssit in water for three or fourdays. Rinse the seeds andspread to dry. Cucumberseeds should be harvestedonly after allowing the fruitto overripen beyond theeating stage. Cleaning Wet Seeds Swell and harden in the garden, let them sit till they are fit, scoop and rinse till fit for a prince!Allow vegetables and fruits that encase seeds within their moist pulp, like squash, cucumbers ormelons, to grow large and swollen, and hard enough that the rind will not dent when pressed by yourthumbnail. Allowing extra time for the vegetable to mature on the vine and cure after harvest increasesseed quality. Scoop out the seeds before the fruit starts to rot. Cleaning Dry Seeds With pods or without, let them dry, thresh and winnow them out.In pods: Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustards, oriental greens, radish, turnip)Without pods - on flowers: Alliums (onions, leeks, chives), Chenopods (spinach, beets, chards,lambsquarter), Composites (lettuce, many flowers), Umbelliferae (carrots, parsnips, dill, parsley), mostflowers and herbs. Refer to books and websites in the resource section for further information. 33
  34. 34. Germination TestsFor younger grades: In towel folded in half and in half again lengthwise into four sections, carefullyput TEN evenly placed seeds in a row. Refold. Label date and seed variety. Place in trays and sprayregularly with a mister. Out of the ten seeds, how many germinate into healthy seedlings after about aweek? Use larger seeds like beans, corn, sunflower, etc. Out of ten, how many grow strong andhealthy? Replant into pots or compost them.For older grades: Practice folding a towel into quarters, and then into ten equal sections – so you haveten sections divided into two. Working on a tray - Put ONE HUNDRED seeds evenly on the towel.Lightly mist to keep them in place. Gently fold up the towel or cover with another lightly misted towel.Check after five days, then daily. Healthy seedlings have strong root growth and sturdy leaves.Compare the number of healthy seeds to the stunted or dead ones. What is the percent of healthyseedlings?Seedling VigorTo see if the seed you saved from last season is healthy - to grow it. Start in small containers. Comparethe vigor, growth rate and color of your seedlings.Storing SeedStore seeds in conditions opposite to what makes them sprout. Seeds store best in dry, cool, darkplaces in glass or tin containers. Unglazed earthen jars with tops are especially good. Refrigerating orfreezing seeds is good as long as the seeds are dry and sealed in airtight containers. 34
  35. 35. How to Save Seed from Self-PollinatorsThe process of pollination in self-pollinating vegetables occurs within each flower. The pollen from themale part of the flower falls into the female part of the same flower. Saving Lettuce Seed Lettuce is self-pollinating. If you want to maintain absolute purity, avoid planting lettuce varieties next to each other. If 95% purity is sufficient, plant varieties next to each other. Start lettuce seeds early indoors about mid-March. Grow to a good transplanting size (4-6 weeks). Transplant outside about a foot apart in moist weather. Lettuce is hardy and can withstand temperatures down to the 20s. Let the lettuce plants grow till they send up a seed stalk. The seed-head is ready to harvest when half of the flowers have turned white. This may take up to two months from the time the lettuce was edible. Don’t wait too long or the seeds will fly away(shatter). To clean lettuce seed by hand carefully rub out and separate the seeds from seed-head.Winnow (separate the seeds from the chaff) by gently blowing away the lighter chaff; shaking up anddown as you blow. Saving Tomato SeedHarvest tomatoes when soft and fully ripe or overripe. Scoopout the seeds with the jelly-like pulp that is attached. Mix inwater and let sit out in the open but not in direct sunlight. Afermentation process occurs which may be a bit smelly. Afterthree or four days skim off the moldy top layer and rinseseeds. Add more water and stir. Pour off the lighter seeds andany remaining pulp. Repeat several times till clean. Spreadout to dry on a dish. Easier than it sounds. Saving Bean Seed Beans grown for seed should be given extra room. If leaves are overcrowded, they are vulnerable to fungal disease. The beans are ready to harvest when the pods are dry and brittle, and the beans rattle inside. If a lot of rain is expected when the beans are almost ready to harvest, pull up the entire plant by the roots and hang upside down inside to dry. Too much rain may cause the beans to sprout or mildew while still on the vine. 35
  36. 36. How to Save Seeds from Cross-PollinatorsThe process of pollination in cross-pollinating vegetables occurs between different flowers. The pollenfrom the male flower is carried by the wind or by insects to the female flower either on the same or onanother plant. To produce seeds that will grow into new plants like the parent, the flowers need to beisolated or separated so that wind and insect pollinators do not transfer the pollen of one variety to theflower of another. Saving Squash SeedSquashes are pollinated by insects, mainly bees. Varieties of the same species should be isolated by atleast a quarter mile (1320 feet) or protected in a screen house to prevent cross-pollination. The fourspecies of squash are: 1. Pepos (five angled stem) – pie pumpkins, summer squash, delicata. 2. Maxima (round stem) – buttercup, hubbard, red kuri, lg pumpkins 3. Moschata (thinner 5 angled stem) – butternuts, cheeses 4. Argyrosperma (also five sides) - cushawAny variety in the same species will cross. Create new squash varieties by growing any variety in thesame species together. Refer to the chart below and seed saving reference books for details on who isrelated to whom. See Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties for ideas on how to create new squashvarieties by intentional crossing.Summer squash should be large, hard and gourd-like, which takes up to two months after the youngedible stage. Winter squash should be sun-cured for two weeks and then stored for at least a month toimprove germination. Cut the fruits and scoop out seed and pulp. Separate out and rinse off the pulpon the seeds by hand. Mature seeds are plump and firm. Discard any that are flattened or hollow; theyare immature and will perform poorly. Spread seeds on paper or screens to dry in a cool shady place.Be sure seed is thoroughly dried before storing in a container. 36
  37. 37. Breed Your Own Vegetables Can you Grow a Squmpkin ?Goal: Discover how traditional farmers over generations have developed vegetables by selecting andbreeding your own new vegetables from heirloom open-pollinated vegetables.Background: Although we know one when we see one, botanists say there is no such thing as apumpkin. They are all squashes, members of the cucurbit family, along with cucumbers, zucchinis andsummer squash, other winter squashes, muskmelons, watermelons and gourds.What’s a squmpkin? If you grow a garden and compost your food waste, youve probably seensqumpkins. They grow out of the compost and look somewhat like pumpkins, but maybe the shape is alittle weird or the color decidedly so. I call them squmpkins––a cross between a pumpkin and asquash. Botanists recognize four species of squash:Cucurbita maxima features soft, cylindrical stems and leaves with rounded lobes. It includes thebuttercup, delicious and hubbard squashes.Cucurbita pepo is distinguished by its 5-angled stem which expands toward attachment to the fruit.Zucchinis, summer squashes, acorn, delicata and spaghetti squashes are all examples.Cucurbita moschata also has a 5-angled stem, but it is smaller than the stem of C. pepo, and expandsabruptly at the fruit. The branches and leaves have small hairs. The butternut squashes are members.Cucurbita argyrosperma is similar to moschata, but its members wont cross with moschata.All varieties of a species will cross. Zucchinis cross with acorns because they are both pepos. Buttercupsand hubbards cross because they are both maximas. It is uncommon for different species to cross.Seed savers who maintain the purity of their variety never plant two members of the same species neareach other because they cross. The recommended isolation distance is a quarter mile or more.Activity: Breed your own vegetables by deliberately encouraging cross-pollination. Plant two or moremembers of the same species nearby each other. Plant Costata Romanesca, Green Tint patty pan andYellow Crookneck summer squashes (all pepos) near each other. Save seed from each and sow thefollowing spring. What do you predict will happen? What intriguing crosses grow? What cross-pollinating vegetables or fruits can you breed for specific traits? Summer Squashes that will cross: 1456 CR - Costata Romanesca (C. pepo) 1538 YC - Yellow Crookneck (C. pepo) 1590 BG - Benning’s Green Tint (C. pepo) 37
  38. 38. Read: Breed Your Own Vegetables by Carol Deppe. Chelsea Green – an inspiring guidebook for breeding science and creativity Breed a Better Pickle "On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sallys cellar." Thomas Jefferson 5,200,000 pounds of pickles are consumed annually in the US. Thats nine pounds per person per year. Pickles are to New Yorkers what Apple Pie is to Americans - an archetypal food that reflects our unique history. Cucumber LoreCucumis sativus: Cucumbers were cultivated in India as long as 3000 years ago between the Bay ofBengal and the towering Himalayas. The cucumber was carried westward from India long beforewritten history as is indicated by the profusion of ancient names for it in: Aryan, Greek, Latin, Arabic,Armenian, and others. Cucumbers are mentioned twice in the Torah (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8).My Great Grandmother Rogosa, from Rujahn, Poland, kept a large pickle barrel in her pantry, as didmany of Americas pioneering generation and sailors aboard ship to prevent scurvy. Under frontierconditions, Eastern European winters, or long days at sea, pickles were the only green, succulent foodavailable. Traditional Jewish kosher pickles use no vinegar, no sugar and no packaged spices. Selective Seed-Saving GuidelinesFor thousands of years farmers have been selectively breeding plants to combine the best traits of theparents. Plant several varieties of your favorite cucumbers, and try your hand at crop improvement.Cucumbers are insect pollinated. Isolate by at least a quarter mile to prevent cross-pollination. Plantabout three feet apart. Taste-test the first cucumber from each plant. Rogue out the less flavorful andthe 50% that are less robust. Keep in only the best plants. Remove the cucumbers or flowers from theremaining plants that may have cross-pollinated with the less desirable plants. Allow only thecucumbers to remain on the vines of the best plants. Do not harvest the best cucumber, but let thecucumbers grow as mature as possible, into swollen, yellowish brown fruits, until the vines die back orit frosts. Harvest and allow the mature cucumbers to cure in a dry, cool place for about 5 weeks forafter-ripening. This helps mature the seed. Cut the fruits in half. Scoop out the seeds and add somewater. Allow to lightly ferment for 2-3 days in a warm place, stir daily. The gel on the seeds willferment off, and the heavier healthy seed will sink to the bottom. Pour off floating pulp and flat seeds.Strain out the heavier seed from the bottom. Remove these seeds immediately and rinse with freshwater. Dry seeds on a screen. My Aunt Esthers Pickle RecipeCut the ends a little bit. You hev to hev dill, garlic and if you can, hev cherry leaves. (black currant or grapeleaves are good too) If you can hev, its very good for people. In the winter its without cherry leaves. Put the dill,the garlic, and the leaves in the water. Salt - as much as you want in the water. Cold water, not warm but coldwater. Put the pickles in a jar, or whatever you hev, even in a dish. Cover with something to keep the picklesunder the water of course. In three, four days its very good. 38